University Forum Spring 2014
To meet someone (or something) without expecting or intending to is the essence of an encounter.  Our ability to question, to absorb, to work through discomfort, to navigate difference—in short, to engage ourselves in the process of learning and becoming—comes about when we encounter surfaces other than our own. The purpose of this University Forum is to link together a series of events that uses this broad concept as an organizing tool. The subject matters through which we hope to provoke encounters include:

  • The complexities of family histories in Northern New England;
  • The misconceptions and myths that affect our perceptions of what it means to be Muslim in Maine;
  • The culture, politics, and issues at stake within North Korea, and between the United States, as explored through food and conversation;
  • Reflections around the nature of diversity through the prism of contemporary Acadian culture;
  • Language politics in the United States;
  • The post-colonial dilemma of who speaks for whom;
  • The impact of cultural encounters in the distant, and not so distant, past and their resonances throughout space and time;
  • Political-consciousness and outspoken commentary through sound, noise, and music in the Americas;
  • An attempt to re-think ourselves by caravanning to the Maine/Canada border in order to return Paul Bunyan to his roots.

Events will be held throughout the spring semester and will include public programs, performances, workshops, and class visits/presentations. A detailed schedule, complete with biographies of guests/organizations and links to related resources can be found at:

Braving the Middle Ground: Stories of Pre-Revolutionary Northern New England |The stories we hear in our families tell us who we are, and how we should view the world.  What tales shaped New England identities in the 17th and 18th centuries?  In this performance, storyteller/historian Jo Radner juxtaposes Native American oral traditions and stories told by her own New England ancestors to reveal a complex colonial ‘middle ground’ in which English settlers and Native peoples saw one another as defenders and trespassers, pursuers and refugees, relatives and aliens, kind neighbors and ruthless destroyers. Tuesday, February 11, 7:30 pm, Emery Community Arts Center

Who Are You? Why Family Stories Matter: Workshop with Jo Radner | This workshop on storytelling and family traditions is designed to get students thinking (and telling stories) about the traditions that have importance in their families and to send them off to their families, eager to ask a few more questions. Wednesday, February 12, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm, North Dining Hall A and B

Meet a Muslim | One quarter of the world’s population—roughly 1.7 billion people from all corners of the planet—confess to following the religion of Islam. Drawing upon his almost twenty years as a practitioner of Islam both in Ethiopia and Maine, UMF student, Yusuf Iman, will provide some perspective and competency by talking about images of Muslims in America, dispelling misconceptions and myths, reading scripture verses, and sharing his experience of growing up Muslim in Maine. Thursday, February 13, 7:30 pm, North Dining Hall A (Snow Day Cancellation: RESCHEDULED for Thursday, March 6, 7:30 pm, North Dining Hall A)

Food, Culture, and Politics of North Korea | Conflict Kitchen, a Pittsburgh-based restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, will spend two days on the UMF campus, preparing and presenting a meal of North Korean food. The meal (advanced ticket purchase required; $20/person; partially subsidized for a select number of UMF students), will be augmented by a presentation/discussion (free and open to the public) that will seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within North Korea and between North Korea and the United States. Wednesday, February 26, Meal of North Korean food served from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, North Dining Hall B and C; public presentation in Emery Community Arts Center at 7:30 pm

The Borders of Identity: The Acadian Experience in the 21st Century | Renowned poet, essayist, and publisher Serge Patrice Thibodeau will offer an evening of reflection on the question of borders and territory in contemporary Acadian culture. The main event will be a bilingual reading involving UMF students, who will have translated several of his texts, followed by an open dialogue with a UMF faculty member (to be determined). The translated poems will include both published versions and texts that have been translated by UMF students. Thibodeau will also be available for class visits. Monday, March 3, 7:00 pm, Olsen Student Center, The Landing

Linked In, Left Out, Uplifted, Downloaded: Language in a Globalizing World Mary Louise Pratt (UMF Libra Scholar) will present a talk on language politics and multilingual poetics in the United States, focusing on some of the history of Spanish in this country that is not too well known. Monday, March 17, 7:30 pm, Olsen Student Center, The Landing

Playing with Language: Mix to Meltdown (Reading and Workshop with Mary Louise Pratt)| Mary Louise Pratt will read several bilingual artistic texts and lead a discussion about how they work. This discussion will turn into a workshop for people to try writing in more than one language. Wednesday, March 19, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm, Merrill Hall, Room 220

Notes on a Balinese Cockfight—the Operetta| Anthropologist and poet, Renato Rosaldo, and composer/performer, Cristian Amigo, will join Gustavo Aguilar and an ensemble cast in presenting a workshop performance of the prelude to Notes on a Balinese Cockfight—the Operetta, a humorous and critical look at American anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s fictitious fieldwork experiences leading to the writing of the 1972 anthropology classic “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.” Thursday, March 20, 7:30 pm, Emery Community Arts Center (Snow Day Cancellation: RESCHEDULED for Friday, March 21, 7:30 pm, Emery Community Arts Center)

The Borders of Identity: The Acadian Experience in the 21st Century | Singer/Songwriter Suzanne Léger will perform on campus and conduct a workshop in FRE 201, an intermediate French course focusing on Francophone song. Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 pm, Emery Community Arts Center

In Search of First Contact | Annette Kolodny (UMF Libra Scholar) will present a talk on the sources of Viking-Native American encounter in the 10th century and highlight their role in the genesis of an American national identity. Thursday, April 10, 7:30 pm, Thomas Auditorium

Teaching Narratives of First Contact | Annette Kolodny (UMF Libra Scholar) will present a workshop for faculty.  Friday, April 11, Time and Location TBA

Finding Namaskonti: Native American History in Farmington Falls| Lisa Brooks (Libra Scholar 2012) returns to talk about her research on Farmington Falls Native American history. During her time as a Libra scholar, Dr. Brooks began to reconstruct Native History in the area. Her presentation will include members of the local Historical Society. Wednesday, April 16, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm,  Thomas Auditorium

Re/Thinking Paul Bunyan—A Presentation of Outcomes  | This Symposium Day presentation will showcase the outcomes of a dynamic, post-disciplinary seven-week course meant to activate dialogue, field studies, and action about creation myths, ideological signs of the nation-state, borders as frontiers of identity, and the friction of global social interaction.  Presenters will include Gaelyn Aguilar (UMF Anthropology), Gustavo Aguilar (UMF Experimental Performance), Jesse Potts (UMF Sculpture), Michael Romanyshyn (Musician and Puppeteer, Temple Stream Theater), and students in the Re/Thinking Paul Bunyan Spring 2014 course.  Wednesday, April 30, Symposium Day, Emery Community Arts Center, Time TBA